Dale Tuggy

Dale Tuggy is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in analytic theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and the history of philosophy.

23 Comments

  1. Dale
    February 24, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

    Guys, newenglandsun has been banned from trinities. He has a bizarre habit of getting enraged and flame-commenting before he even reads a comment a second time (so he’s popping off about what hasn’t been said).

  2. Dale
    February 10, 2014 @ 9:29 pm

    Sorry, but from where I sit, the sort of ineffable Ultimate posited by apophatic theologies is very much a human construct, a projection of human imagination.

  3. newenglandsun
    February 9, 2014 @ 10:09 am

    Apophatic theology *PREVENTS* us from creating our own construct of God.

  4. Dale
    February 8, 2014 @ 7:54 pm

    Hmmm… I wasn’t aware that Intel started putting trinitarian security into their chips.. that’s going too far! 🙂

    If you have a big monitor, that just a lot more pictures that automatically load…

    Might be less annoying to go to a post, then scroll through other by using the L and R buttons on the sides of the screen?

  5. Fr Aidan Kimel
    February 8, 2014 @ 2:43 pm

    Yes, I do have a large computer monitor. Does that make a difference? And my iMac is only a year old, so it’s not as if I don’t have enough processing power. As you note, it’s the infinite scrolling that seems to be causing the problem. I understand your dilemma. I have infinite scrolling for my blog, and my computer handles it just fine. Anyway, yours is the only site where I seem to have this problem. Of course, I do have my computer trained to be resist all unitarianism. 😉

  6. newenglandsun
    February 8, 2014 @ 1:01 pm

    Continued…

    Apophatic theology *prevents* us from creating our own construct of God. Because we cannot describe God in accurate, human terms, we find it difficult to create a god of our own liking. Is God just in the sense of American justice or in the sense of Norwegian justice? Or…maybe in the sense of Jewish justice but then why doesn’t he throw stones at me when I sin?

  7. newenglandsun
    February 8, 2014 @ 12:58 pm

    Apophatic theology asserts…God is described in terms of who he is not. Hence, God sleeps. But God is not a man and so God does not sleep. So…God does not sleep. But it says God sleeps. Hence, God does not sleep in the sense that man does. In other words, his “sleeping” is something that our limited minds ascribe to God for a lack of better description as to what it seems in that context. So…

    Apt apophatic theology – God is not a loving father

    So…
    God is either
    a) an evil, Hitler-like dictator or
    b) a more loving father than most humans can even imagine

  8. Dale
    February 8, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

    “Your entire site seemed to be down.”

    Yeah, my host company is not up 100% of the time. I don’t think any is.

  9. Dale
    February 8, 2014 @ 12:42 pm

    “AHA! So Dale DOES believe in apophatic theology”

    No, Dale only believes that metaphors can be applied to God. I think you’re confusing that with much stronger claims, such as that of necessity, all discourse about God is non-literal. I think we know which metaphors are and are not appropriate because we do (contra strict apophatic theology) know how God intrinsically is.

    Apt metaphor: God is a loving father.
    Bad metaphor: God is a banana-Republic dictator.

  10. newenglandsun
    February 8, 2014 @ 11:56 am

    By the way, the front page was more of a problem last night. Your entire site seemed to be down. I couldn’t even get to it. And I was lazily gaming that night as well.

  11. newenglandsun
    February 8, 2014 @ 11:54 am

    “there is just God not doing what he’s being requested to do, so that it looks from the human perspective like he’s not doing anything.”
    AHA! So Dale DOES believe in apophatic theology because that is EXACTLY what apophatic theology teaches! That God’s alleged human descriptions are just our mere ATTEMPTS to explain God.

  12. Dale
    February 8, 2014 @ 11:12 am

    “It’s not at all clear to me that apophaticism, whether extreme or moderate, is an import from Platonism.”

    I realize that this is not obvious; I hope to post on this some time. One place you can see it is in Plato’s Seventh Letter.

    ” It seems to me to follow logically from the doctrine of Creation: if God has freely created everything from out of nothing, then he does not fit into any of our finite categories.”

    I’m sorry, but that seems like a non sequitur to me. I don’t see any connection between the premise and the conclusion. Could there be a missing premise, I wonder? (Not a rhetorical question; I honestly don’t follow the line of thought here.)

    I would also argue that we’re made in God’s image and likeness. This means that we’re similar to God. But then, it follow that he’s similar to us. So, why be pessimistic about our concepts applying to God? e.g. Being. That’s not the concept of a human being, or of a physical being, or of a created being – it’s neutral as to all of that. It’s a very simple, or thin concept. And, it seems like it should apply to be you, and to God. Yes?

    “They certainly did not believe that they were corrupting the apostolic faith or sneaking alien philosophy into the biblical faith.”

    Agreed. But think of the liberal or “modernist” theologian, who thinks certain things (e.g. miracles are impossible) are perfectly obvious, and that of course this in no way affects the message of the Bible (understood in his ways). Such a person may well, I think you’ll agree, be a perfect captive of trendy philosophies. But, this hazard existed in the 4th c. as well. A sort of eclectic Platonism was the prestige philosophy of that era. Surely, that ought to worry us.

    “But even if you are correct about its Platonic origins, so what? Why does aetiology count as an argument against Christian apophatic theology?”

    I think it doesn’t count against its truth at all. That would be a genetic fallacy. Of course (and some of my unitarian brethren don’t like to hear this) the various Greek philosophers were right about all sorts of things! Moral realism, for instance. The argument against it, is that it is not supported in our authoritative sources – the Bible. You may consider, though, the ancient bishops to be authorities…

  13. Dale
    February 8, 2014 @ 10:54 am

    Fr. Aiden, About the front page – thank you for the feedback! I’m leaving your comment there, to see if many others chime in.

    I’ve not had that problem on any of my connections… I believe you, though, and that is a bummer. Sorry.

    I’m conflicted though. I really like the way this theme “infinitely scrolls”. Many other themes would sort of hide any post which is 10-15 back. I like the sea of pictures this one produces – it helps people to find more interesting content they want to read. How much it loads depends on screen size too. On my phone, it’ll just load one pic. On a tablet, I think it’ll just load several. Do you have a very large computer monitor?

  14. Dale
    February 8, 2014 @ 10:50 am

    “does he sleep or not sleep”

    Not! Psalm 44:23 simply does not imply that God sleeps. That’s a sloppy mis-reading. No “fundamentalist” (whatever that means) need commit to such an interpretation. God “sleeping” there is just God not doing what he’s being requested to do, so that it looks from the human perspective like he’s not doing anything.

    But Jesus does, or at least did.

    Ergo…

  15. Fr Aidan Kimel
    February 8, 2014 @ 10:27 am

    “Yes, understood in the extreme or philosophical sense, I do reject that tradition. I find that it has no biblical warrant or precedent, and I see it as only adding confusion to the task of theology. As best I can tell, it comes from Platonic philosophies, and never should’ve been grafted into catholic theology.”

    It’s not at all clear to me that apophaticism, whether extreme or moderate, is an import from Platonism. It seems to me to follow logically from the doctrine of Creation: if God has freely created everything from out of nothing, then he does not fit into any of our finite categories.

    It should be noted that the Church Fathers argued for the incomprehensibility of God on biblical grounds: see, e.g., St John Chrysostom’s homilies on the Incomprehensible Nature of God (http://goo.gl/1ru4Zh). They certainly did not believe that they were corrupting the apostolic faith or sneaking alien philosophy into the biblical faith.

    But even if you are correct about its Platonic origins, so what? Why does aetiology count as an argument against Christian apophatic theology? Why might just as easily say that belief in angels appears to be an import from Zoroastrianism and therefore must be wrong. As far as we know, the Platonism of the Hellenistic world was divinely ordained for the reception of the gospel. Why think that God has restricted himself to Semitic categories? If that was his intention, he clearly failed in his divine communication. Of course, Christian theologians did not leave that Platonism untouched. It was itself dramatically altered in the process of appropriation.

  16. Fr Aidan Kimel
    February 8, 2014 @ 10:10 am

    Hi, Dale. One request (which has nothing to do with our discussion): please consider reconfiguring the front page of your site. It takes forever to load, and I have a pretty good internet connection. I suspect I’m not the only one who is experiencing this problem.

    This comment will self-destruct ten seconds after you have read it. (In other words, please delete it.) 🙂

  17. newenglandsun
    February 7, 2014 @ 8:53 am

    ineffable – “incapable of being expressed or described in words; inexpressible”
    yes, i hold that god is ineffable. at least the biblical god. does he sleep or not sleep? your answer to this question will reveal more about you.
    http://newenglandsun.wordpress.com/2013/11/28/trouble-for-fundamentalists-does-god-sleep/

  18. Dale
    February 6, 2014 @ 10:50 am

    “do you agree that god’s ways are higher than yours”

    Yes. This just means that I don’t understand quite a lot of what God does, and doesn’t do. e.g. Why did he send Jesus in the 1st c.? Why hasn’t Jesus come back yet? Why exactly has he allowed this and that tragedy, etc.

    No, not all Christians are Platonists – pay attention to the extreme definition I gave above to the term “ineffable.” Do you agree that God is that?

  19. Dale
    February 6, 2014 @ 10:48 am

    “Anyone can make that argument ”

    True.

    “”Why the focus on Muslims?”
    Traditionally trinitarian Christians generally ignore or quickly dismiss unitarian Christian theologies – they think they are all fringe, kooky, obviously wrong, outdated, or cultish. The reasons for this are complex and interesting, but in any case it is a fact. At least they will sit up and take notice that Muslims are gaining on us, and that they consider this to be a sort of trump card against Christianity. We still enjoy our in-house theorizing, but increasingly, it will be impossible for Christians to ignore Islamic apologists and theologians on this – their arguments will meet us everywhere we interact with our educated Muslim neighbors. Either we have clear and convincing answers, or they win the arguments. I take no pleasure in any spokesman for Islam beating up on Chrisitanity; I think we’re on the right side. But we need to get our story straight. I urge, back to the sources. As of now, to an extent I’m pursuing this by going back further into catholic tradition, to pre-Nicene theologies. But ultimately the sources that matter are the views of Jesus and his apostles.

  20. SMW
    February 4, 2014 @ 6:20 pm

    My reply: genre plays a role here. Have a look at St. Anselm’s Monologion and Proslogion. Those are prayers and contemplations in which technical thought is at work. This, at least, is evidence that technical thinking about God is compatible with prayer and contemplation. In fact, technical thinking about God could be an act of prayer or contemplation. It need not, of course. But it can!

  21. newenglandsun
    February 4, 2014 @ 11:47 am

    but at this rate, we’d all be platonists. do you agree that god’s ways are higher than yours (addressed in isaiah)?

  22. Dale
    February 4, 2014 @ 10:37 am

    I don’t attribute the Trinity to Plato, though there are some similar things in some of the Middle and Neoplatonists.

    What I attribute to Plato is the idea that the ultimate reality is ineffable – such that no concept applies to, and it is really beyond any understanding, and is to be mystically experienced rather than understood. See his famous “Seventh Letter” section 341 (in the standard numbering). This letter may or may not be genuine, but it expresses this mystical side of ancient Platonism well.

  23. newenglandsun
    February 4, 2014 @ 9:46 am

    “As best I can tell, it comes from Platonic philosophies,”
    Okay, having read A.E. Taylor’s massive work and still outstanding in the Platonic scholarship realm, I am anxious to know which PART of Plato’s teachings reflects a three-in-one God OTHER THAN his obsession with the geometrical figure known as “the triangle”.